The Inside Story: Your Baby in Week Thirty-Eight

Your baby is starting to practice her breathing--you may even notice a few of her hiccups!

fetal development SebastianKaulitzki/

Things are really getting crowded now that your baby might weigh more than 6 pounds and stretch beyond 20 inches. The placenta, too, is nearly as large as it will get, probably measuring between 6 and 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. The placenta adds another pound to what's keeping you from tying your shoes.

Your baby is so big that her knees and elbows have to be constantly flexed or even folded. However, she'll still wiggle and bump you, so you should be aware of her movements. Her heart rate will be between 120 and 160 beats per minute during labor and delivery. You'll probably also be very aware of her hiccups now. They're the result of your baby inhaling amniotic fluid as she practices her breathing, and they can be vigorous enough for your partner to see your clothes move. Her lungs are most likely fully mature.

Your baby's umbilical cord is between 12 and 39 inches long but will most likely be about 21 inches. It looks like a moist, white, twisted telephone cord, and it attaches the placenta to your baby.

Originally published in You & Your Baby: Pregnancy.

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